Long Track Worlds | Maltais and Blondin, a thunderous duo

(Calgary) Valérie Maltais and Ivanie Blondin determined that they were stronger together.

Ranked first and second respectively in the world in the women’s group start, Maltais and Blondin allow Canada to count on a thunderous duo in this event which resembles a game of cat and mouse.

The two women lead a contingent of 19 Canadians at the World Single Distance Long Track Speed ​​Skating Championships, a four-day competition that begins Thursday at the Olympic Oval in Calgary. In total, the best skaters in the world will compete in 12 individual events and four more team events.

Calgary will host the World Single Distance Championships for the first time in 25 years, although the Olympic Oval was the scene of the World Sprint Championships (2017) and the World Championships four times between 1992 and 2015.

The mass start, which is relatively new in this already very storied discipline, consists of a 16-lap race, during which skaters battle strategically to position themselves for intermediate sprints which give them points .

Blondin, of Ottawa, is a two-time world champion and won silver at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

A team dynamic is recommended at the group start. One skater works for another — a bit like track cycling — to create obstruction, catch up with breakaways and produce a suction effect in her wake.

Maltais, from Saguenay, handled this task for Blondin in Beijing, but instead chose to go it alone during the 2022-2023 season. Maltais proposed a more consensual partnership last year.

“This season is the first in which we truly work together,” Maltais said. Before that, I worked for Ivanie, and after the Olympics, each of us did our own thing. It really wasn’t pleasant.

“At the end of the last season… I said, ‘My wish would be for us to work together. I don’t want to work for you or you for me. But we will work together to beat the Dutch. I’m sure we can achieve this. And if I didn’t believe in it, then I simply wouldn’t want to participate in the group start anymore. I have no pleasure in facing all the other girls alone.”

“We are two excellent skaters, we are intelligent and we are very skilled on the ice. I was like, “We could work together.” We proved it this season. It worked most of the time. »

The skaters, who are 33 years old, come from the world of short track. The duo placed in the top 4 in three of six races so far this season.

Blondin won two World Cups and finished second twice, although she was also disqualified in December during a stop in Norway.

Maltese sneaked into the top 6 of five races, signing three podiums along the way, to win the season title.

Maltais and Blondin will take part in the 3000m at the World Individual Distances on Thursday. Canada is a podium contender in both the men’s and women’s team sprint, as is Alberta’s Ted-Jan Bloemen in the men’s 5,000m.

Maltais, Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann of Ottawa will also try to defend their world title in the team pursuit on Friday. For his part, Quebec sprinter Laurent Dubreuil and American Jordan Stolz will compete again in the men’s 500m.

The mass starts, as well as the men’s and women’s 1000m, will be presented on Saturday. There will then be the men’s and women’s 1500m, as well as the women’s 5000m and the men’s 10,000m, closing the event on Sunday.

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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